The Sunday of the Resurrection (C):
The Collect of the Day
Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate the joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may be raised from the death of sin by your life-giving Spirit; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
This reading echoes two passages from earlier in the book, Isaiah 25:6-10 and 11:6-9. It is a grand apocalyptic vision of a renewed creation living fully within the dream of God. This new creation hearkens back to Israel’s creation myth with people living extraordinarily long lives and all the curses of life accumulated over the years reversed (except for the serpent!). In Christian terms, this is the resurrected life both for humanity and the whole creation.
It is an ancient tradition to read from The Acts of the Apostles during Eastertide. At this point in the story, the apostle Peter has had a strange dream in which a voice had told him “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” At the same time, a Roman Centurion named Cornelius had a dream to seek out Peter and invite him to his home. When Peter arrives, Cornelius, a Gentile, welcomes him, and Peter begins to speak, which is today’s reading. Immediately after this, the Holy Spirit falls down on Cornelius and his family, and the Jesus movement makes a major advance—the Gentiles will be as welcome in this movement as Jews. The speech contains an accusation that “the people of Israel . . . put him to death by hanging him on a tree.” We know the story is more complicated than that. It was certain Jewish religious authorities who goaded Pilate to send Jesus to a Roman-executed death.
Psalm 118 has long been associated with Holy Week and Easter. Thanksgiving for God’s “steadfast love” is the overall theme. Verses 14-24 have so long been associated with Easter that it is hard to imagine them in anything other context than the resurrection of Jesus. The “cornerstone” verse is used by Jesus in Mark (12:10) and Matthew (21:42) and by Peter in Acts (4:11).
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; *
his mercy endures for ever.
2 Let Israel now proclaim, *
“His mercy endures for ever.”
14 The Lord is my strength and my song, *
and he has become my salvation.
15 There is a sound of exultation and victory *
in the tents of the righteous:
16 “The right hand of the Lord has triumphed! *
the right hand of the Lord is exalted!
the right hand of the Lord has triumphed!”
17 I shall not die, but live, *
and declare the works of the Lord.
18 The Lord has punished me sorely, *
but he did not hand me over to death.
19 Open for me the gates of righteousness; *
I will enter them; I will offer thanks to the Lord.
20 “This is the gate of the Lord; *
he who is righteous may enter.”
21 I will give thanks to you, for you answered me *
and have become my salvation.
22 The same stone which the builders rejected *
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing, *
and it is marvelous in our eyes.
24 On this day the Lord has acted; *
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
2nd Reading: Acts 10:34-43 (as above)
In Chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians, Paul speaks about his understanding of the resurrection. Paul begins the chapter by reminding them of what he has taught (15:3-11). In verses 12-19, he argues for the resurrection by use of logic. Todays’ reading is his grand summary, putting the resurrection in the context of the whole story of God. Even Paul, however, cannot escape the reality that believers still die, and so he declares, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” The destruction of death is seen by many Christians as the great purpose of the death and resurrection of Jesus.
In all four Gospels, it is women who are the first witnesses to the empty tomb, chief among them Mary Magdalene. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Mary is accorded the title “apostle” because of this. Did Mary not recognize Jesus because his resurrection body was quite different? Or is he “disguised” as the gardener? Or is she still in shock? We do not know. What we do know is that the sound of his voice calling her name triggers her recognition.
There is no story of the resurrection available to us, only that of the discovery of the empty tomb. The four Gospel writers all agree the first witnesses to the empty tomb were women, chief among them Mary Magdalene. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Mary is accorded the title “apostle.” Luke adds the names of Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and “the other women,” presumably those identified at Luke 8:1 as having been among Jesus’ followers and who “provided for them out of their resources.” Only Luke adds the detail that the [male] disciples did not believe the women when they told of their discovery.
The Scripture quotations (except for the psalm) are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Al rights reserved. The Collect of the Day and the Psalm translation are from The Book of Common Prayer. Commentaries are copyright © 2022 Epiphany ESources, 67 E. Main St., Hornell, NY 14843. www.EpiphanyEsources.com. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to copy for group study.